nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘books with a strong sense of ‘place’’ Category

Book Review: Meadowlands – A Chronicle of the Scovil Family’ by Virginia Bliss Bjerkelund

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I have lived in New Brunswick for more than 40 years and love its rural nature and the landscapes dominated by its waterways. In our travels on the weekends, we have spent lots of time in the Oromocto to Cambridge Narrows corridor. For many years we had a cabin in the woods just over the hill from the Narrows. In the last ten years we have had a cabin south of Gagetown. As a result, we have used the Gagetown ferry many, many times. It’s an enjoyable crossing of the Saint John River, like a mini-cruise, with lots to see. I always love disembarking at Foshay Farms. From there, we continue towards Jemseg, watching for turtles in the ponds, osprey on their nests, Canada geese foraging in the fields. One year we watched a glossy ibis in a marshy area along the road, a rare sighting for New Brunswick.

Because of my familiarity with the area, I have looked forward to reading a copy of Virginia’s book Meadowlands, former name of the homestead where the Gagetown ferry lands, the Foshay Farms mentioned above. I also looked forward to the book because Virginia is a member of my writers’ group Wolf Tree Writers. Through the years, Virginia has talked about her Aunt Bessie’s home and workshopped many of the passages in the book.

Meadowlands – A Chronicle of the Scovil Family’ by Virginia Bliss Bjerkelund (Woodstock: Chapel Street Editions, 2020)

An interesting, readable, often humorous, portrayal of life in the early years of the 20th century.

Meadowlands is an enjoyable read, presenting the life of a family after the death of the mother of the five Scovil children. Major characters in the book are Aunt Bessie (Elizabeth Scovil), a professional nurse who knew Florence Nightingale, and Mary Scovil, the youngest daughter in the family and the author’s mother. The book follows the lives of the family, detailing their adventures and travels. The reader is assisted by a map of the area, a family tree and photos of the people in the book.

A remarkable characteristic of the book is its portrayal of women’s lives in the early 1900s. Elizabeth Scovil, a well-known writer in her field and a professional nurse, was an unusual woman, ahead of her time, independent, self-supporting and a source of strength and guidance for her family.  Other women’s roles are also presented including the women who taught school, public and private. The division of labour into men’s work and women’s work is a thread running through the book. The lack of control of a woman over her own life, especially in matters of romance, provides some interesting story-lines.

My favorite aspect of Meadowlands is the attention it pays to the transportation of the times. Travels to Saint John and Windsor, and into other parts of  Canada and the United States were a regular part of the Scovil year. In particular, the local travels to Gagetown (for school, medical care and various groceries) are interesting for their seasonal nature. In winter, a sled and skates were the preferred way of crossing the river. In summer, a row boat was the norm. The family’s adventures include early innovations in transportation: the first motor cars and the addition of an Evinrude motor to the Scovil boat are memorable.

Meadowlands is an enjoyable book, written in an engaging style with the author’s voice clear and consistent. The reader’s appetite will be inspired throughout by descriptions of the foods eaten and images of sipping cordials on the veranda or turning the crank to make fresh strawberry ice cream.

Meadowlands has had the honor of being short-listed in the New Brunswick Book Awards for the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick Non-fiction Award!

You can find your copy of Meadowlands at your local bookstore, at the Chapel Street website here, or at Amazon here .

Enjoy your reading!

Jane

Written by jane tims

March 31, 2021 at 3:56 pm

A Book Review: Where’s Home by Jan Fancy Hull

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I am originally from Alberta, but left for Nova Scotia as a teenager and remained there for twenty years until I took my first job. Although I have not lived there for years, Nova Scotia has a way of tugging at my heart-strings. I love the ocean, the rural landscape of the Annapolis Valley, the silver waters of the Bras d’Or Lakes. My Kaye Eliot Mysteries are set in the Rawdon Hills of Nova Scotia. For these reasons, I was so happy to hear about a writing project by my friend Jan Hull, a book exploring the ideas of people who consider Nova Scotia ‘home.’

Where’s Home? by Jan Fancy Hull (Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia: Moose House Publications, 2020)

An honest and charming mixture of memory, experience and connection.

This book explores the difficult idea of acceptance (how you accept your community/landscape/province and how it accepts you). Through anecdote and survey response, the book explores the idea of ‘home’—where you live, why you live there, who you are, when you arrived, and how you seek to be part of community.

A reader will begin the book expecting a series of anecdotes about down-east warmth and soothing ocean vistas. But, as the cover states, the answer to Where’s Home? can be complicated. Here you will find stories of people who love Nova Scotia, would never live anywhere else. You will find stories of those who love the ocean, the rural landscape, the home cooking and the welcoming people. You will also find stories of those who hate cold and snowy winters or have ambitions for urban success in other parts of the world.

The book does not avoid difficult subject matter but discusses problems of ‘home’ throughout Nova Scotia’s history—the loss of home by indigenous peoples who did not surrender title to their lands, the loss of home by Acadian people who were deported by the English, people who lost homes when a federal park was established, people whose idea of home has changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The anecdotes and survey answers in the book consider the complex idea of CFA (Come From Away). Some new arrivals have been welcomed with plates of scones. Others have not found acceptance and the author considers some of the barriers to feeling at home—local colloquialisms, lack of business opportunities, even racism.

My favorite idea in the book?—a way to make people feel welcomed: organized Campground Hosts at Kejimkujic Park, unofficial community greeters, local refugee organizations, local people all set to welcome newcomers to a home in Nova Scotia.

As you read Where’s Home? you will compare your experiences with those in the book, even if you are not from Nova Scotia—the experiences related are applicable to any place where we live or wish to return. These are stories of entrepreneurs, artists, immigrants, people of various cultures and backgrounds. They are told with consideration, empathy, humor and understanding.

Where’s Home? is available at Amazon here, at your local bookstore, or by contacting Jan directly at the website here.

Enjoy your reading during these uncertain spring days.

All my best!

Jane

Written by jane tims

March 30, 2021 at 7:22 pm

Niche: new poetry book

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Early this year, I set a goal, to pull my poems into a series of books. I have written many poems and I do not want them to be lost when I leave this planet.

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The result is three poetry books I intend to publish in 2020. So far this year I have published one of the three: ghosts are lonely here. Today, I completed another of the books, niche. It will be available on Amazon by the weekend. I will have copies by mid-January.

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In terms of biology, the niche is the quality of a space occupied by a living thing, the sum total of physical, nutritional, biological, psychological and emotional needs gathered together in one place. In human terms, niche can be a metaphor for home, community or personal space. One way of looking at the timeline of life is to think of it as a sequence of niche-spaces lived in, sought after, avoided, encountered, found, or occupied. 

These are poems about niche—the spaces where plants, animals and humans find home. The poems explore the niche spaces found primarily in Canada’s temperate zone where plants and animals have adapted to ecologies with a strong seasonal component. The poems explore the forests and coastal areas of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the prairies of Alberta.

As you read the poems, you may think about your own niche, its origins and the changes that have occurred.

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My poetry book niche has a Foreword, written by my good friend Roger Moore (not the spy). Roger has guided and inspired my writing as a friend and teacher for more than 20 years.

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The book is illustrated with my drawings.

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The next book in the series will be entitled ‘blueberries and mink: summers on my grandfathers farm.’ It should be published by the end of 2020.

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All my best,

Jane

Next Authors Coffee House

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Every two months, we hold an Authors Coffee House at our church– a non-denominational outreach activity for the community.

Invited authors read from their work, sell their books, answer questions about the writing process and enjoy one-another’s company.

The next event will be Thursday, November 26 at 2 PM. Our author is Neil Sampson, winner of the 2018 Bailey Poetry Prize (Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick) for his manuscript “Apples on the Nashwaak.” His book will appeal to anyone with a bit of Irish in their heart! Hope to see you there!

Neil’s book is available for purchase at Chapel Street Editions (click here).

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Do you love picking berries, herbs, other plants from the garden? I think you’d like my book of poetry ‘within easy reach’ (Chapel street Editions, 2016). It is illustrated with my drawings and contains notes on various example of the edible ‘wild.’ Order it here.

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where we step

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my brother and I explore

the old home place, overgrown

and unused, the house fallen

into the cellar, a sock

tossed into the dresser drawer

but, barefoot not an option

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even shod, we are careful

of our feet – nails, glass, bricks

from the chimney, unease creeps

beneath the grass – we watch for

the water well, covered but

with rotted boards

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hard not to love where we step –

the mint enfolds our ankles,

rose and rosemary, our minds

chives lace our sneakers, fold

flowers from purple papers

lavender leans on the walls

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silver, graceful and wise,

the sage surveys our ruin,

thyme is bruised,

everywhere we step

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Stay safe.

All my best!

Jane

reading in isolation

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For a writer, retired from the daily commute, living in isolation from others has not been very hard. I have kept in touch with my family by phone, with my writing groups by Messenger, and with other friends through Facebook. When I am not writing, I watch TV or read aloud to my husband and we occasionally go for short drives. I’ve also taken an on-line writing course on Monday and Thursday evenings. Sometimes I sew, sometimes I blog. Rarely I take on my cleaning duties. There is always lots to do.

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Reading has been a true solace in these times of isolation. I have a Kobo for bedtime reading and a Kindle for the living room. And there is always a stack of books by the reading chair. I love British detective series like those of Ann Granger, Anne Cleeves and Elly Griffiths. I also love Science Fiction, most recently Vicki Holt’s Hunted on Predator Planet.

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What’s a comfortable chair without a book?

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So what is it about reading that is so involving? Part of this is setting, being transported to the misty sea-bound Shetland Islands, or the tentacled and mucky landscape of a distant planet. Part is about characters, getting to know people who face heart-pounding danger, or who solve mysteries by fitting clue to clue. Part is about story, a mix of circumstance and fate with twists and turns and an ending you never see coming.

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I have been known to lose myself in a good book. Once I settled in my car at a local park to read and forgot to return to work!

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Other people are reading lots too. I have seen a bit of a spike in book sales on Amazon. It is one of the pleasures of being a writer, knowing that I can bring a bit of escapism and solace to my readers.

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If you want to lose yourself in a book series, try my Meniscus Series. It’s a bit different. The stories are written in narrative poetry in a style that is compact and accessible. There are maps, a glossary and an alien dictionary in each book. All my books are illustrated.

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The Meniscus Series is about humans trying to overcome a dystopian reality on an alien planet. The story unfolds over several books and the theme is building relationships, building community.

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All my best!

Stay in your bubble! Read on!

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 29, 2020 at 7:00 am

a reading and signing of my new book ‘How Her Garden Grew’

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Have you ever seen a Grinning Tun? He is the villain of my new mystery story How Her Garden Grew.

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grinning tun.jpg

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I will be reading and signing books at our Authors Coffee House on Thursday, May 30 at 7 PM at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Nasonworth (1224, Highway 101). A portion of book sales will be donated to the Fredericton Hospice. There will be refreshments!

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Jane Tims poster

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How Her Garden Grew is available in e-book and paperback formats here and will soon be available at Westminster Books in Fredericton.

Hope to see you at the Authors Coffee House!

Jane

New mystery novel – How Her Garden Grew

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Merry, Merry

Quite contrary

How does your garden grow?

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Announcement: My new mystery novel ‘How Her Garden Grew‘ is now available on Amazon in paperback. The Kindle version will be available in a few days.

How Her Garden Grew’ is the first in my series of Kaye Eliot mysteries. Kaye is a busy mother with a business to run, two active children and an accountant husband who can’t seem to get free of tax time! The books will take us back to the 1990’s, to a time before cell phones and computers were a key ingredient of family life.

‘How Her Garden Grew’ is a novel about coping with stress, the strength of family, the problems of community, a century-old garden and a strange character called the Grinning Tun.

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In the 1990s, Kaye Eliot comes to Acadia Creek to spend a quiet summer with her two children. But instead of passing stress-free days of swimming and hiking, she finds herself embedded in mystery after mystery. A missing vagrant and a gang of thieves have the community worried. Neighbours seem determined to occupy all of Kaye’s time and energy in restoration of an old flower garden. To add to the mayhem, Kaye and her kids have stumbled on a century-old legend of a treasure buried on the property, a packet of forgotten letters from a woman named Maria Merriweather and an old map of the garden. And they dig up a sinister sea shell. A sea shell who looks like a grinning skull and will not stay where he is put. Can Kaye recover her calm or will she be the victim of neighbors, vagrants, thieves and a shell called the Grinning Tun? Restoring Maria’s garden seems a great idea, until Kaye discovers how Maria’s garden grew.

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So what or who is the Grinning Tun? The Grinning Tun is a sea shell, plucked from the sands of a faraway tropical shore. But this is a sea shell with a difference. It will not stay put! Shove it in the warming oven and, next morning, it sits on top of the stove. Bury it in the ground and it is found in the root cellar. And it grins. It thinks of the possibilities. And it links a mystery in the 1990’s with one in the 1870’s.

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To get your copy of ‘How Her Garden Grew’, go to Amazon here. If you are in the Fredericton area, I will be reading from the book and signing copies at the Authors Coffee House in Nasonworth later in May (more details soon)!

Hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it!

All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 27, 2019 at 7:13 pm

sampling a story

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This week, my new book Meniscus: Karst Topography is out. Follow the continuing adventures of the Humans at Themble Hill … aliens have taken Kathryn, Meghan, Vicki and Madoline from the Village and the Slain go on a dangerous rescue mission to Prell. But at least two of the women don’t need to be rescued … they have found their own ways to get the better of the Dock-winders.

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Did you know you do not have to purchase the book if you are part of KU (Kindle Unlimited) and KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library). Just go to Amazon and read a sample of the book before you decide to buy or not. This is a support for authors since authors are paid by KDP for pages read. https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1548434396

Karst Topography cover

Thank you so much for trying out my new book or any of the series.

All my best,

Jane  (a.k.a. Alexandra)

Authors Coffee House October 25

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Looking forward to another of our Authors Coffee Houses. Chuck Bowie, author of the Donovan: Thief for Hire Series, will be reading from his work-in-progress:

‘Death Between the Walls’ – An Old Manse Cozy Mystery
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‘When Emma returns to small town New Brunswick to manage the Manse Arts Centre, she assumes the tenants will be the challenge. And then people start dying…’
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The reading will take place at 7 PM on Thursday evening (October 25, 2018) at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 1224 Highway 101 in Nasonworth.
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There will be coffee, tea, juice, and cookies from The Goody Shop.
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A free will offering will go to support the Fredericton SPCA.
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You will be first to hear from Chuck’s new book! We always have a lot of fun and lots of time for questions.
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All my best,
Jane

Written by jane tims

October 21, 2018 at 8:22 pm

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